“Some days your soul is ripped apart. Some days the sadness threatens to drown you. Some days the silence threatens to drive you insane. Some days you look back and beg for the past. Some days you put on a pretty face. Some days you fall apart. Some days you decide to keep going. Some days you smile. Some days you laugh. Some days you look ahead. Some days you make it. Some days you fake it. Some days are still days…Live them, love them, share them, and remember them.”~Me from my Facebook.
Today is one of those days. I look around and I think…is this REALLY my life?! Don’t take that the wrong way. I am thankful for many things in my life, but today the reality of my life just hit me again. And. It. Stinks.
A friend texted me and said, “A lot of people think it’s only hard on birthdays or anniversaries of special dates, but then just a Wednesday happens”.
Boy, was she ever right! Grief has a way of hitting you over and over again no matter how long it has been since you lost that special person. And, it doesn’t matter who it was that you lost either.
Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, children, friends, spouses…no matter who it was that disappeared from your life, the grief that hits you on a Wednesday feels exactly the same as the grief that hit you on the day your person died.
I have learned quite a few things about grief over the past year and a half. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of getting to know lots of other people who are on the grief road with me. Every story, every tear, every heartache that I’ve heard stays with me. I try so hard to keep each persons story and loss straight in my mind. I don’t ever want to forget that I am not the only one traveling this lonely road. That’s easy to forget when the Wednesday’s hit.
Throughout all of my conversations with literally hundreds of different people over the past year (and a half…), I have picked up on some things that I would like to address. You will either agree or disagree with what I am about to say…and you are entitled to your opinion of course. However, I would ask that you truly THINK about the things I am going to say before you respond to them. Deal?
OK, first is the issue of dating after becoming a widow or widower. I have encountered many, Many, MANY different opinions on this subject and I have given it a lot of thought. When a person who has lost his/her spouse decides to date again he/she is making a conscious decision to keep on living.
Let that sink in for a second.
They are choosing to live, despite the fact that they are having to fight for every single breath that they take each and every day. Do you think dating someone is what they WANT to do? Trust me…it is the LAST thing they WANT to do, but it is something they MUST do in order to move forward if they don’t want to be alone for the rest of their lives. In case you forgot, they did not choose to be single again. They were (for the most part) happily married to their spouse UNTIL DEATH DO US PART.
For some reason people feel free to judge what he/she is doing with fierceness. The most critical, mean, hateful judgments are most often hurled from the very people who are closest to the surviving spouse. Children (grown or not), parents, family, friends, and fellow church members get flat out offended when that person starts dating again. Why?
This is what all of those “well-meaning” comments really say to a person choosing to live again:
“I’m sorry you lost your spouse. I really hate that you were left alone. I will pray for you, BUT I must go home now. See, I have to go back to my house. I can’t stay here and sit in your quiet home with you all of the time. I must leave you here to sit all alone. I expect you to get over being so sad before I see you again though. I seriously cannot take the reality of your grief any longer.
If you cry, please do it here. We don’t want to see it or hear about it, because our lives are still very full. We are going to get into our car and drive away. We are going to cook dinner for our family; watch a little TV in the living room; and then we are going to crawl into our beds where we will snuggle up next to our spouse and sleep until the alarm goes off around 6 a.m.
While we do that though, you just sit right here by yourself…in complete silence. You really need to focus and think about the person you lost…um k? Oh! But whatever you do, DO NOT reach out to another living soul on this Earth besides me to help ease the loneliness and pain you are feeling. Especially, since I know exactly what your spouse would want you to do and obviously you didn’t know him/her well enough to know that for yourself.” (Insert eye roll)
Why is that OK? Why do we allow our kids, families, friends, co-workers, and church families to tell us that we deserve to be alone? Why do we allow them to make us feel guilty for choosing to live? Why do they feel entitled to tell us how we should act period? It literally feels like all of a sudden everyone you know is able to tell you all about your marriage even though the only person you were married to is gone…and is never coming back. The last time I checked my Bible a marriage was made up of one man, one woman, and God. Am I reading that wrong?
Next, why do we have a timeline that apparently everyone knows about who HAS NOT lost a person close to them; yet those of us who HAVE can’t seem to find it? I have searched literally high and low trying to find where God said we have to grieve according to a certain schedule and I can’t find it. Maybe you are reading a different Bible than I am or something. I don’t know.
What I do know is, there is not a timeline on Earth that will heal a broken heart. Those timelines don’t exist as far as I can tell. I’d pay big money for one though. Big money.
Just this week I have talked to three different people who have all experienced the death of a parent, a child, and a spouse. All of those people said similar things in each of our conversations about how they had been treated by the people closest to them after loosing people they love. I could see the hurt in their eyes. I could feel the sadness in their voices.
I understood exactly how they felt.
See guys, I am upset with myself and my friends for unknowingly allowing people to hurt us so badly. I am upset with the spoiled, insensitive, rude people who call themselves “friends and family”; yet continuously do things that are mean, hurtful and uncalled for in the name of “love, honor, and respect” for the person who died.
But, I can’t even stay upset with them because they don’t even realize what they are saying!
Here is what God says:
“And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face; even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Cor. 13: 1-13
So, today is someone’s SOME DAY. Today is the day that the light bulb goes off and suddenly…clearly…consciously someone will see and understand what they are REALLY saying to the people they proclaim to love.
This grief road is hard enough as it is, please don’t make it any harder by not realizing what and how your words are coming across. The tongue is a double edged sword. It cuts deep and leaves lasting wounds that don’t heal over night.
Choose to listen.
Choose to see.
Choose to understand.
Choose to love…always…forever…as long as you are here.
And, for goodness sakes….PLEASE think before you speak.
The deeply wounded, grieving, surviving, living people of the this world say: